Taco Pasta by Maggie

This recipe is a different take on the Mexican Stuffed Shells. The ingredients and quantities are pretty much identical.

1 1/2 pounds ground beef (also tastes delicious with ground turkey… and it’s healthier)
12 ounce dry pasta shapes (med. sized shells or salad macaroni is good)
1 small onion, chopped (or 1 Tbsp minced onion flakes)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup salsa
1 packet taco seasoning
6 ounce cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper
Shredded Cheese for topping

If you plan on eating all or some tonight then go ahead and start cooking the pasta shells. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Set aside.

Now to cook the sauce (You need to do this if you are eating any of it tonight OR FREEZING it all)
In a large skillet, cook the ground beef and onion over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Once the meat is cooked through, drain off the excess fat and mix in the garlic. Cook for another minute then mix in the salsa and taco seasoning and let simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

If eating it all tonight:
Stir in the cooked pasta, cream cheese, sour cream and reserved pasta water, and continue stirring until the cream cheese is melted and the sauce is well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with shredded cheese and more sour cream and salsa if desired.

FREEZING INSTRUCTIONS:
Add the cream cheese and sour cream to mixture and simmer till the cream cheese is thoroughly melted and blends well. All salt and pepper if desired. Let cool to a little warmer than room temperature, then evenly divide the meat mixture between labeled bags.  If you multiplied the ingredients by 4 then divide into 4 gallon bags. Freezer flat. On cooking day you just thaw overnight, then start boiling the pasta. In a separate pot bring the meat mixture to a simmer and add cooked pasta.  Serve with grated cheddar cheese on top, if you wish.  Serve with a side of veggies or cut up fruit and some breadsticks or rolls.

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